Let me tell you a Bible story from a far-away place a long time ago

I am glad you dropped in. Got a minute? Have a seat. I want to tell you a bible story...

The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. ~Isaiah55:10-11[1]

When we were dating, Donya’s Dad gave her a bible. She carried it with her into our marriage and recorded in it early facts and dates regarding our “Family Record.”

Her Dad, never one to miss an opportunity to make a point, signed the Bible with his own twist on a Scripture verse. He wrote:

“My Darling Donya, If sinners (Gene) entice thee, consent thou not.” Proverbs 1:10

That’s a moot point now, but it was “seriously” funny at the time.

Four years and two daughters into our marriage, Donya and I moved to California, where I would serve a year as an Associate Pastor in the little agricultural town of Porterville before accepting a senior pastorate role in slightly-bigger Turlock.

Donya’s bible accompanied us all the winding way to California. First, there was a short stint as Youth Minister in Fort Worth. Then there was a year-and-a-half of Bible college in Springfield, Missouri. Then back to Texas for a few months before striking out for the west coast.

It was quite a ride! Along the way, our second daughter would burst onto the scene (while we were in Bible college) suffering from a severe birth defect. She had Spina Bifida and would require surgery in order to salvage any hope of ambulation. That is why we left college prematurely and returned to Texas. God had placed a bigger and more immediate responsibility Into our hands.

Through the rapid-fire changes in our lives and the soul-shaking challenges we faced as parents and a young couple trying to pursue a calling and a dream while hanging on for dear life, the Bible Donya’s Dad gave her was always nearby.

Like me, Donya was not above questioning God. Like me, she struggled to make sense of it all. Like me, she found in the midst of incessant storms little islands of hope tucked away in Scripture. She would underline them in her Bible and maybe make a little note to the side. Verses like…

Jeremiah 29:11-13 - For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. [2]

Romans 8:28 - We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.[3]

Verses like that, where we are promised that God is in control, He knows what He is doing, and He has our back. Those were important to us in those days and no less so today.

I don’t know whether Donya underlined Isaiah 55:11, but I sure did. As a very young pastor of a very small church, I clung to it like an overboard sailor to a piece of driftwood…

…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

When you are the pastor of a small church that is growing at a painfully slow rate, you just keep preaching the Word and clinging to that promise.

What I hear in those words from God to Isaiah and Israel is, “It’s not for nothing!”


Brand New Bible; Same Old Promises

“So, what happened to that Bible Donya’s Dad gave her?” ~The Peanut Gallery

Good question!

We are not sure. Either it was lost – perhaps left behind on one of the many moves we made along the way to Turlock. Or, as she believes she vaguely remembers (but won’t swear to it), the Bible made it to Turlock and she loaned it to a girl who did not have her own bible to read.

Somehow, she ended up without it and I bought her a brand new one. Sometime in the mid-eighties, I replaced her missing purple Cambridge bonded leather bible with a gray Cambridge bonded leather bible. Thirty-odd years later, she still has the replacement bible I gave her.

The purple bible, however, was long gone.

Or, so we thought.

In June 2017, Donya received this odd message from a total stranger via Facebook. The exchange below is shared exactly as it occurred.

Stranger: I live in Maine and was given a bible with your name on it, its yours if you want it. it has married by Reverend Tom Weir inside just to verify I am legit. God bless, [Name Redacted}

Stranger: I acquired what is apparently your bible from a house in coastal Maine, anything you care about? God bless.

Donya: Thank you for contacting me. Trying to imagine how a bible with my name on it would end up in Maine though. Would you mind sending me a picture of it?

Stranger: I will, many years ago I deliver lumber to our house on the coast and I noticed it because I like Bibles and the old man said you want it ?and I said sure It has your stuff in it about marriage and family that's how I found your name on Facebook, when I get home tonight I will take a picture of the inside cover and the outside, Sorry about my typing I am doing this by voice command and it don't seem to come out right, God bless

He later shared with her these photos of her long-lost bible.

Another exchange ensued.

Stranger: I have had this for a lot of years, I have used it because it is a King James, I have made notes in it and done some highlighting, for that I apologize, I gave up on trying to find you and just decided to use it. About 20 years ago I was delivering lumber to a small cottage near the ocean near Lubec or Machias Maine, there was an old fella there and when he had me come inside (Mabee to collect the invoice for the lumber) I noticed the bible on his end table and said "nice bible" and he replied "Do you want it ?"and I questioned him but I don't remember his response but it was something like "Not sure where it came from" so I was delighted to take it, ever since I got saved and became a Christian I have been interested in bibles, especially King James.

Donya: Wow It is mine! What an awesome story! I am so glad you had it all of this time and that it has been a blessing to you! I cannot take it from you since I understand what it has meant to you. I am so thrilled to know that God was able to use something of mine to help you. I am thrilled to know that you became a Christian and have used this bible to study and learn. Thank you for reaching out to me, but I think it should remain with you. It seems it should be this way. Thank you so much. You have been a blessing to me today!

Stranger: If you want it back it means nothing to me, I will send it to you and even pay the shipping, I have been blessed with bibles, I pick them from the bin at the dump before they get shredded, last year my dad passed and the family gave me the Maternal and paternal bibles from mid to late 1800s Just say the word and I will send it. Are you a Christian?

Donya: Yes, I am a Christian! I would love to have if you are sure you don't mind mailing to me. My address [Redacted]. I will be happy to pay the shipping. This is such a great story. Thanks again for contacting me!

Stranger: Any idea how it got to Maine?

Donya: Not a clue really. The only thing I can think of is that my husband pastored a church in California many years ago. We did have a family in our church that was from Maine. Maybe one of the kids took it home and it ultimately made its way to Maine. Or maybe someone passing through picked it up at the church. I really have no idea and not really even sure when I lost it.

The texting trail ends there.

To date, we have neither gotten the bible back nor heard again from the man in whose possession it has been for 20+ years.

We are good with that.

I would, however, love to know all about the journey that old bible has been on these past 30 or so years. How many hands did it pass through? How many lives did it touch? How many people tossed it aside or left it laying, as the old man had, on a table, untouched?

Whatever purpose it served, it served its purpose. Long after I left the pastorate, that traveling bible continued its work with its highlighted passages offering islands of hope to some storm-tossed soul or other. Originally given by a doting father to his darling daughter in Texas, later clung to by a young distraught mother and pastor’s wife in California, then given to – or found by – who-knows-whom-or-where (or how many whos and wheres), and finally  passed on to a new convert in Maine, that bible preached its message of hope and redemption to the lost-and-found.

Contained in those moderately-priced bonded leather flaps is the eternal Word of the Living God. The Eternal God of the Living Word sent it on a secret cross-country, multi-decade mission.

It did not return to Him empty.

Just as He promised!


[1]  Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT), copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188

[2] New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

[3] Modern English Version (MEV) The Holy Bible. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.